English Language Acquisition
Our ELA teachers focus on reaching students through a variety of techniques and approaches, such as Sheltered Instruction, Scaffolded Learning and Active Learning. Teaching English is not an isolated activity, but instead focuses on helping students complete all their school tasks. This helps in two areas where English learners need practice: academic English and conversational English.
Sheltered English instruction is an instructional approach that engages English Language Learners (ELLs) above the beginner level in developing grade-level content-area knowledge, academic skills, and increased English proficiency. Sheltered Instruction offers ELLs the grade-level content instruction of their English-speaking peers, while adapting lesson delivery to suit their English proficiency level. In Sheltered English classes, learning activities connect new content to students’ prior knowledge. Teachers use clear, direct, simple English and a wide range of scaffolding strategies to communicate course content to students.
In Scaffolded Learning, teachers build on students’ prior knowledge to create new knowledge. Examples of scaffolding:
- Some resources such as textbooks and other written materials contain the same information as those in conventional classrooms, but they are written in simpler and more direct language or supported by teacher-produced annotations.
- There is considerable reliance on a variety of methods to deliver information. A teacher may explain an idea in English and then use several methods to convey the same information: For example, the teacher may act out the information or use illustrations.
- Continual student-teacher interaction is essential to ensure learning. It may involve discussions, student oral summaries of the information, and continuing student self-diagnosis of gaps in understanding.
- In every lesson, teachers communicate and reinforce English through listening, speaking, reading and writing.
The New America Schools instruction is built on the idea of active, not passive, learning.
Some of the techniques teachers may use, which have been proven effective in English Language Acquisition classes across the country, include:
- Previewing and building on prior knowledge.
- Interactive work, not lengthy lecturing.
- Graphic organizers and other visually-oriented aids that provide a non-linguistic structure for understanding key information.
- Continual modeling by teachers of what kind of work is expected and how to create it.
- An emphasis on relating students’ culture to content, which engages students, maintains their interest, and keeps students’ heritage part of their lives.
- Extensive group work that offers the opportunity to engage students in talking, interacting, problem solving, and improving social skills.